South Sudan Country Director Deepmala Mahla Testifies Before Senate Panel
WASHINGTON, DC – With an estimated 81 million people in need of emergency assistance because of severe food insecurity, Congress must act now to prevent famine and save lives, urges Deepmala Mahla, South Sudan Country Director for the global organization Mercy Corps. In testimony to a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on the matter, Mahla proposes Congress enact new policies in three areas: funding, diplomacy, and resilience and peacebuilding.
Mahla’s appearance comes as Mercy Corps and seven other leading U.S.-based relief organizations launch the Global Emergency Response Coalition, the first-of-its-kind U.S. humanitarian alliance, formed to raise awareness and funds to address needs in 10 famine-threatened countries.
In her testimony, Mahla suggests that without decisive action, an already distressing situation could become even worse. “Man-made causes are driving famine and food insecurity, including a deadly mix of conflict, marginalization, displacement, violent extremism and climate change,” she says. “These massive multi-country humanitarian crises will have far-reaching impacts on security and stability in already volatile regions of Africa and the Middle East.”
Specifically, Mahla calls on Congress to provide urgently needed assistance and allow humanitarian access to populations in need. She also recommends full-scale diplomatic efforts among the United States and its key allies to ensure a quick and peaceful end to conflict. And, Mahla speaks of the importance of investing in programs that address the root causes of conflict and violence to build resilience in the stricken countries.
The threat of famine is particularly severe in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In all four countries and elsewhere, Mercy Corps is already working with local partners to quickly deliver food, water, sanitation supplies and other necessities.
Read or download Mahla’s prepared remarks here.